who owns clews & strawbridge?

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This structure is a historic asset…or it should be.

It’s the 18th century farmhouse that is part of the Clews & Strawbridge property on Lancaster Avebue in Malvern/Frazwer .

Who owns Clews & Strawbridge now?

I find this demolition by neglect disgraceful, but then again I find most of the rotting historic properties in Chester County and in East Whiteland disgraceful because it doesn’t have to be this way!

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The fencing is new and I have to ask do they think a stockade fence is going to make people forget what a hot mess the entire property looks like most of the time? COME ON.

Whoever you are, it’s time to deal with the house.  Can it be sold? Is it empty? Is it full of stuff? There are so many stories yet no one seems to know what is going on so can they just be straight with residents and historical architecture buffs?

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have you been to the eagle tavern lately? GO!

The Eagle Tavern is Chester County History. Love that after centuries (literally!) they are still standing! It was built in 1702 and the liquor license dates from 1727. We weren’t even a country yet officially! The current building was built over the original structure circa 1799 according to what I was told. It’s survived what could have been a devastating fire in 2010 that was tragically accidental.

It closed for a while when the old owners decided to sell. In 2018 it opened under new ownership. I wrote about it then (click HERE). PA Eats also wrote about it back then (click HERE.)

If I have a story right before the current owner as of 2018 it was owned by the original family that had it for decades and then maybe the people that owned Carmines up the street had it for a while?

Anyway back in 2012, the Daily Local wrote:

The Eagle Tavern

Receiving a liquor license in 1727, the Eagle Tavern was once a hangout for pre-Revolutionary War outlaws the Doan brothers. Located at the fork of two main thoroughfares, it’s been run by owner Lois Jones and her family since the country’s Bicentennial in 1976. Lois can be seen today greeting guests and serving up hearty fare in the restaurant’s casual, friendly atmosphere.

The Eagle Tavern has a colorful history that I would love to learn more about. (Some of it is on their website.)

I used to go to the tavern under the old owners mostly for lunch over the years. I didn’t live in Chester County until a few years ago so back in the day it was truly a haul to get there.

When the Eagle Tavern first reopened in 2018 we went a few times. The first time was March, 2018. That is when I wrote my initial review. At that time the meal was awesome and we really enjoyed it. We went back a few other times later in 2018 and didn’t really like it as much. I never updated my review, I just went other places. The problem was the place was inconsistent. It got to be that it was never really horrible but it wasn’t so fabulous either.

So until today, we hadn’t been there in forever, literally. We had wondered for a while if they were still open because the parking lot was always empty. Then recently a friend told me that they were under more appropriate management, better management and they were doing their own beer and other things.

So this afternoon after taking a detour after attending a funeral, my husband and I decided to go back for a late lunch.

I am so glad we did! And I hope all of you go back to the Eagle Tavern, especially if you haven’t been there in a while!

The difference is remarkable! The inside has been further refined without losing its wonderful historic tavern feel. The menu has been revamped and is like a more modern version of what it originally was years ago. And the bathrooms have been done over and so has the staff. We had amazing table service today and an awesome lunch!

I know it sounds dumb, but I have been on the hunt for a traditional, old-school club sandwich. I don’t know what it is about that sandwich but that is a summer sandwich to me. Probably because growing up when you went to certain clubs and places that was always on a summer menu.

The sandwich was amazing. My husband enjoyed his lunch too and said that their home brewed beers were nice! Here are screenshots of the lunch menu:

Here is the link to all of the menus: CLICK HERE. The Eagle Tavern has upped their game considerably and remained true to the history. I like that they do not pretend to be other than what they are. And it’s lovely inside. Anyone can buy architectural salvage to dress up a new build restaurant, but you can’t imitate centuries of history.

We actually took the time to speak with the manager. Chester County residents who have lived out here a long time you will know his name immediately – Chip Nye. Yes, the old manager for years came back! And the difference is remarkable! And he’s excited to be there and his energy is echoed by the rest of the staff.

The Eagle Tavern is running again like a well-oiled machine, and the menu works and is well-prepared coming out of the kitchen and the staff is amazing. I actually look forward to future meals there. And I think it looks better than ever inside which is why I snapped a few photos.

Anyway I encourage folks to go and check it out. They also have music some of the time.

An old school tavern is so much better than a Disneyesque modern version of a pub. The folks from the Ship Inn should go check it out. The Ship is also tradition around here, but they need a makeover in parts of their restaurant, and the kind of aesthetic makeover at the Eagle Tavern and feel of it would also work at the Ship Inn. No, not to create twinsies taverns, I just think it would be good inspiration. Especially in that big dining room that screams 1970s banquet hall.

(Now don’t get out the pitchforks at me because I said the Ship Inn needs a makeover. It’s a cool place but Robert Irvine needs to visit and Restaurant Impossible is looking for places.)

Back to the Eagle Tavern: Today was lovely, look forward to future visits! Let me know what you think if you go!

adaptive reuse ❤️

I love that whomever owns what was once a motor court on Route 30 in Exton is rebuilding the little cottages/cabins one by one.

Adaptive reuse and preservation. We need more of that combined with land conservation and farm preservation here in Chester County.

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#tbt my history with history

The photo above has me in the center. Circa 1976- 1977. It has just been too long that sadly, I don’t remember the exact date.

Where am I? At one of my favorite historic sites on earth. Historic Harriton House in Bryn Mawr. I think technically, my friends and I at the time, beat Chef Walter Staib into the kitchen there by a few decades.

When we first moved to the Main Line from Society Hill, I missed the history and old houses of Society Hill. Yes, I was kind of obsessed by old houses even then. So neighbors introduced our family to historic Harriton House. And as a related sidenote, Historic Harriton House is a remarkable story of preservation. I urge everyone to take the time to go visit. The site is a little slice of heaven.

Before we moved from the city to suburbia, I also did something kind of historically minded for a kid.

At 11, I was probably the youngest volunteer tour guide the Park Service ever had in Society Hill. I gave tours of the Todd House and Bishop White House. In Colonial garb with a little mob cap.

How? Well my parents knew Hobie Cawood. Mr. Cawood was the Superintendent of Independence National Historical Park from 1971-1991. I wrote about this before.

But this is just something I have always loved since I was a kid. Our history, our architecture, our old houses.

I am not a new house person. I am a preserve the old house person. It’s just the way I am made. I am a realist and I don’t think every old house can be saved, but I think a lot more can be saved then are actually being saved.

Whenever I have these conversations with anyone about historic preservation, I go back to my childhood in Society Hill. And the reason is simple: that area was a total slum when people like my parents as newlyweds bought wrecks of old houses in Society Hill for peanuts from the redevelopment authority in Philadelphia.

My parents and their friends restored these houses with architectural details and hardware and windows and woodwork from houses that were too far gone to save. And as kids, a lot of the time we went with our parents when they were visiting these wrecks of houses to see what they could salvage out of them. And salvaging then wasn’t so much a big business as it was sort of a neighbor helping neighbor collaborative. People would give you the stuff out of the houses being torn down. It was a very different time.

It was through these expeditions that I learned about things like shutter dogs. Busybody mirrors. Box locks and more. The details of historical architecture which have traveled with me throughout my life.

This is where my love of old houses began. And it has been a lifelong affair.

A lot of people don’t like my opinions. And I’m sorry they don’t share my love of old houses and history. But as Americans we have a magnificent history. And we can’t just keep bulldozing it away.

Thanks for stopping by.

chester county memories

I got a comment into my blog today concerning the historic rotting house you see above. It is located on the Clews and Strawbridge property in Malvern on Lancaster Avenue in East Whiteland.

Here is the comment:

I remember when the now abandoned house next to Clews and Strawbridge was occupied by the Clews family (1970). Their daughter Sylvan was one of my closest friends. The home was filled with art and antiques, as Sylvan’s father, Mancha, was the son of a noted sculptor, and her mother Margaret ( a member of the family that founded the Strawbridge and Clothier department store), was a painter. I lost touch with Sylvan, but was somewhat amused that when I met my current husband years later, he was living almost directly across the street from that house, in Westgate Village. Now, I pass that house on my way to work almost every day, and often think about what it was like when the family lived there (and I wonder what creatures might currently be in residence, from bats to squirrels?)

This is another house that is part of Chester County’s architectural history that is just being allowed to rot.

Apparently in this county they can only build new these days. And isn’t that pathetic?

And did you know the Chester County Planning Commission has someone whose sole job has to do with the history… a “Heritage Preservation Coordinator.”

I have to wonder do they realize all the structures are out there? And do they care?

To the residents of Chester County: As someone who is somewhat new to your ranks even after a few years, I love the stories don’t stop telling them to me.

what is really going on in caln township with lloyd farm?

Many thanks to Abandoned Steve Explorations for the use of his gorgeous photo of Lloyd Farm in Caln Township.

Abandoned Steve Explorations took the glorious photo I am opening this post with. I am positively obsessed with the cool structures he covers. He was nice enough to lend us the use of this photo it’s part of an upcoming project. You can find him on Facebook , his website, and YouTube.

Lloyd Farm is haunting me. Part of a Penn Land Grant, dating its origins to the 1600s.

(See this history by Edward C. Lendrat)

Then there is the 18th Century farmhouse with an equally historic 1901 addition.

What am I talking about? 1757 was when the farmhouse was originally built and 1910 when the Lloyd family commissioned Gilbert McIlvaine the Philadelphia architect to build a “modern” addition that paid homage and melded with the original farmhouse. Mr. McIlvaine maintained a home in Downingtown for many years and was also active in the Boy Scouts founding several troops I am told in Chester County.

Back to Lloyd Farm…except the people who have called it home or who had something to do with it are important to the very fabric of Lloyd Farm’s history.

Yesterday I learned surprising news when a copy of an old historic preservation application was unearthed from the early 1980s – possibly 1982. Yes – seriously – Lloyd Farm Application for Historic Designation: PA Historic Resource Form Circa 1982.

From this form we learned quite a few things including that Lloyd Farm around or before the Civil War was a freaking stop on the Underground Railroad!

It’s just crazy and you have to ask what in the heck is going on in Caln Township? How long have these commissioners known the history of Lloyd Farm and why didn’t that historic designation proceed? Why wasn’t it pursued for a national historical status?

Did I mention the demolition permit? There is one. And what is with the date mismatch in that letter thing?

I don’t live in Caln. I do know amusingly enough like Lower Merion Township , it’s a First Class Township. But who runs the Township? Because it surely doesn’t seem like the elected commissioners does it? I know in Lower Merion Township years ago because I was part of it when the residents rose up after having had enough over the threat of eminent domain for private gain in Ardmore that we flipped half of the board of commissioners in one election.

And Caln residents are upset about this.

Really upset.

I want to know why the developer wants to tear down the house don’t you? Is this going to be like the death of Addison Mizner’s La Ronda in Bryn Mawr, PA? A case where a magnificent home was torn down for salvage just because someone could?

Caln resident submitted photo.

Look at the historic comparables in Chester County that are actually getting saved and restored: West Whiteland Inn, Exton. Benjamin Jacobs House, Exton. Fox Chase Inn and Barn, Exton. Linden Hall, Malvern (even if I don’t like some of what is being done it’s being saved, finally.) Loch Aerie, Malvern. The Jenny Lind House, Yellow Springs Village.

Also to be considered? Several Toll Brothers projects including in Chester County where similar vintage farmhouses and/or barns have been or are being saved. Now it is no secret how I feel about Toll Brothers developments, but if even they can preserve historic structures on properties they are developing why couldn’t the developer for Lloyd Farm do that? Or why couldn’t they contemplate something like selling off the farmhouse with a small plot of land around it to someone who might want to preserve it and live in it or something like that?

Caln resident submitted photo.

I don’t have the answers and every day I have more and more questions. This is one of those situations I just don’t get it. I just don’t get what is going on here. I don’t understand why this property isn’t more valued for the centuries of history involved here?

Our history should not always belong to the wrecking ball.

That’s all I have got.

#SaveLloydFarm #ThisPlaceMatters

Caln resident submitted photo.

historic philadelphia tour guide memories

I love Philadelphia history. As a child born in the Society Hill section of Philadelphia in the 1960s I was literally raised in it, with it, immersed in it.

My late father worked on the Continental Congress reenactment. That was 1974. It was super cool. I remember it. We got to meet Jimmy and Roslyn Carter before he was President among others. (I found a video on YouTube about it, actually .) The First Continental Congress met in Philadelphia in the autumn of 1774, so in 1974 in advance of the US Bicentennial, there was this reenactment.

Circa 1975 I was 11. And my parents somehow convinced the then Superintendent of Independence National Historic Park, Hobart Cawood, to let me be a volunteer tour guide of the Todd House (Dolly Todd Madison’s Philadelphia home way before she was a First Lady- I was obsessed with her as a kid and even have a China doll my mother made for me from a kit still), and the Bishop White House (the Philadelphia one, not the Rose Tree one White sent his family to during the Yellow Fever outbreak in late 18th Century.)

I gave my tours in Colonial garb. My mother made me a costume that included a mob cap (from a pattern similar to the one above I saw on eBay). I was a kid, but I loved Philadelphia history so I did research and made sure what I said was historically accurate. Grown-ups who took my tour told me then that my tour was better and more interesting than a lot of the grown-ups like Park Service folk giving tours. Regular lay volunteers were nice to me the precocious kid. Actual Park Service guides? Mmmm they tolerated me. Sort of.

Hobie Cawood allowed me to have memories to carry with me forever. It was a magical experience. Better than any camp I could have gone to that summer.

Around the same time I also helped a Philadelphia gardener named Bill Spann plant the kitchen garden at the Todd House. I contributed one of the plants to the garden from my own garden – Irish Camphor. My paternal grandmother had smuggled it home from a trip to Ireland and gave me a piece to grow, and I split part of my plant and donated some to this garden which was planted then to be historically accurate for a Colonial kitchen garden. I do not know if they still have a garden there or not.

Flash forward to the mid 1980s and starting to look for a “real” job. One of my great aunts had been a Civil Service employee her whole life (starting in World War II) and she used to get these paper catalogs of job listings for government jobs. She used to give them to me because to her a government job was the best kind of security. I looked through one of the catalogs and they had jobs that were either GS3 or GS4 grade Park Ranger jobs at Independence National Historic Park. I applied for a job, and to my surprise, got it.

I got this job as my friends were getting ready for one last post-College summer at the beach. I didn’t really want to go to work, but my parents were insistent. I went and got my polyester Smokey The Bear uniforms (complete with hat.) I will admit Main Line friends at the time mocked me.

I remember going to report for work at the visitors’ center. As an entry level baby Park Service employee, I had orientation and also shadowed park ranger tour guides and was tasked with also creating my own tour. I went back to my first Independence National Historic Park first loves – the Todd and Bishop White Houses. I was shocked at how historically inaccurate or historically sloppy the tours were at that time. I actually found it depressing.

So once again, now as a young adult, I researched and created my tour. No one really checked it, but I made it historically accurate. I did not embellish. It was tough being a new kid though. The established rangers viewed new kids on the block much like you would view a pesky younger sibling and were very cliquish. I will admit that was pretty much the only job I never really made friends.

Working for the Park Service in the cradle of American liberty in the mid 1980s did come with a pass key. I happily on breaks and lunch times explored photo archives that existed on upper floors of either the First or Second Bank (I forget which.) One time I also went with people to the tippy top to the wooden bell tower where the Liberty Bell once hung. That was super cool. All around inside the bell tower at that time were the signatures of famous people and regular people who had climbed to the top. I signed my name in ball point pen near where Ronald Reagan had signed his name. I have no idea if my signature or even his and others still exist as restoration work was done a few years ago.

In the post 9/11 world, I doubt as a Park Service employee that you can just wander at will like you once could. One of the drawbacks which I don’t know if it has changed was dealing with the unbalanced and homeless who frequented the historic sites. That was hard and sad.

I will admit that while I loved giving tours of my favorite houses from my childhood and it was a kick, I hated the job. I hated the scratchy and super ugly polyester uniform. I did not like the government worker cliques I encountered. So I maybe lasted a couple of months. And I quit and much to my parent’s anger, went back to the beach for the majority of one last summer.

Many years passed and I remember another time years ago now doing the tourist thing with a friend in from out of town. I remember taking them down to the Independence Hall area. We went on a tour of houses, Independence Hall, Carpenter’s Hall, and even a carriage ride tour. It was so historically OFF that to this day, I have never recommended those tours again. I recommend self-touring.

Well, in April’s Philadelphia Magazine there is an article about these tours. It’s worth reading. Thanks for stopping by and below is a very small excerpt:

Fact-Checking Philly History Tours: Truths, Half-Truths and Truthiness
Philadelphia Magazine
By Don Steinberg


….Sightseeing tours of historic Philadelphia are like blizzards of candy factoids raining from the sky. As the landmarks whiz by, guides shower visiting pilgrims with history-book facts, anecdotes about the founding fathers, incredible backstories about public art, impressive and begging-for-fact-check firsts and biggests and oldests….It turns out not every truth, at least when it comes to Philadelphia history tours, is self-evident. Based on my small sample size, I’m putting it at about 83 percent. That means — good news! — our city sightseeing tours are mostly accurate. But there’s still a fertile area of dare-you-to-disprove sketchiness and just enough whacked-out face-palmers to keep the city’s vital tourist audience entertained. What could be more American?

Ten years ago, Philadelphia City Council passed a law, and mayor Michael Nutter signed it, that said anybody who wanted to give a paid sightseeing tour in Center City had to pass a Philadelphia history test to get a license. That ordinance remains on the books, and this April we celebrate the 10th anniversary of its never being enforced.